Pumpkin vs. Orange: Battle of the Best Orange Consumable Plant

Robinson Lee, Student Life Editor

One of the most popular articles on our website has been “Taro vs. Ube: Battle of the Best Purple Sweet Potato,” with many people looking for information on both of these plants. This article will serve as a follow-up to that article as we have received a nicely worded recommendation from one of our readers that we should compare pumpkins and oranges due to their similarities as orange consumable plants. These two staples of Western cuisine have found their way into the hearts and stomachs of many Americans, so let’s conduct a thorough evaluation of each of these orange consumable plants.

  • Origin:
    • Orange: Despite the prominence of domestic oranges in states like California and Florida, oranges did not originate from the United States or Europe. What is commonly known as the orange is more specifically the “sweet orange,” which is not a wild fruit but a hybrid between two citrus fruits—the pomelo and the mandarin orange. This hybrid originated from a vast region including Southern China, Northeast India, and Myanmar, with the earliest known record of this orange being from Chinese literature dating back to 314 BCE. Moors during the Middle Ages developed orange orchards which spread throughout Iberia and eventually became a staple in European fruit. The Spanish then introduced them to the Americas and imported them to their various missions.
    • Pumpkin: In contrast to oranges, the pumpkin is a plant native to the Americas. Before the arrival of European explorers, Indigenous Americans in Mexico and Central America grew them for thousands of years before the cultivation of corn and beans. It is estimated that pumpkins have been used as early as 7500 BCE. Terminology-wise, “pumpkin” has no certain scientific meaning but is used to describe orange winter squash in the U.S. and U.K., with Australians and New Zealanders using pumpkin to refer to all winter squashes. For this article, we will be using the American definition of pumpkin.
  • Color:
    • Orange: When it comes to color, oranges are pretty straightforward. When not ripe, they are wholly green. When ripe and ready to eat, they are orange, possibly with some green spots. Often, these green spots turn orange in a process known as degreening. Degreening uses a combination of temperature and chemical processes to turn oranges their iconic orange color, though it does not ripen the fruit at all. Nonetheless, the color orange has popularly portrayed oranges in other mediums of food outside of the fruit itself. Orange-colored sherbet, candy, or Gatorade is often perceived as tasting like an orange rather than any other orange-colored fruit or vegetable. Did I mention enough that oranges are orange?
    • Pumpkin: Pumpkins are also defined popularly by their orange color. However, there are a few exceptions to orange being the defining characteristic of all pumpkins. Like oranges, pumpkins start green when unripe. Unlike oranges though, pumpkins can be eaten when not fully orange. Other exceptions are white and blue pumpkins, which both originate from selective breeding for their colors. Given these pumpkin colors are rare in nature, pumpkins have continuously been defined as orange.
  • Compatibility:
    • Orange: Oranges are notable for their great versatility. They go well with other fruits, and their juice can be used to add a tangy flavor to salads or smoothies. I would personally recommend putting oranges in jello, as the combination of gelatin and orange flavor makes a deliciously sweet snack.
    • Pumpkin: Pumpkins also have a versatility that allows them to be used in confections and even be eaten as an entree. Pumpkin pie is what most people think of when referring to pumpkin baked goods, but using pumpkins to make cookies, bread, or cake are also delightful options. On the savory side, pumpkins can be used to create stews or thick soups. A combination of beef, potatoes, and pumpkin along with some salt and spices goes a long way to make a delicious stew.

The Verdict: Initially, I started this article thinking the orange would be the winner between the two, considering its popularity, while the pumpkin was just a seasonal decoration. However, the pumpkin’s diverse uses in decorations and foods has convinced me that the pumpkin is deeply underrated compared to its citrus counterpart. Nonetheless, both orange consumable plants are delightful in their culinary uses and should be valued highly in the repertoire of any chef, amateur or professional. I would like to thank the reader who recommended that we address this incredibly important question comparing the pumpkin and the orange, as these plants have more value to them than just the color orange. Please like, share, and subscribe, and let us know in the comments how many times you counted the word orange. Happy April Fools’!